preliminary ideas for a lab

Fri Jan 16 01:27:27 EST 1998

A friend got a book about the science of cooking, and it says that
green beans rot faster in your fridge than other vegetables because their
metabolic rate is higher.  I've certainly noticed that green beans
deteriorate quickly, never thought about why.

I got to thinking for a lab about having students measure metabolic rates
of various vegetables (isn't there some standard lab done w/ peas in a
thermos, or peas in some sort of device that captures CO2?), to see first
of all if it's true about the metabolism of green beans.  I wonder also,
is there a "decay" enzyme that many vegetables might be expected to have,
that could be assayed for simply? 

You'd never know at least in a winter semester if your sample veggies were
the same age post-harvest, unless you could somehow grow them all to
maturity in a greenhouse, but perhaps you could control for that that by
storing some of the sample vegetables in a fridge, and seeing which ones
of the specimens you happened to buy at Krogers decayed first.  YOu'd
also have the problem of defining decay across diverse species. 

Well, these are clearly preliminary thoughts, but I always like labs that
can link students' pre-existing knowledge (assuming they have observed
vegetables in a fridge before) with a bit of science.

Any comments/further caveats from lab designers or food scientists -- or
maybe this is the department of parents who oversee science fair projects?
-- would be welcome. 

Anne Heise
Washtenaw Community College
Ann Arbor MI

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